- Conference date: 7-9 September 2005
- Location: Trieste (Italy) and Losinj (Croatia)
A paradox is discussed in which a photon can occupy one of two positions, ‘left’ or ‘right.’ Quantum mechanics allows the two possibilities—‘nothing left, photon right’ and ‘photon left, nothing right’—to be combined in a (coherent) superposition; or alternatively in an (incoherent) mixture, with similar terms, but no phase relation between them. As the phase relation is statistically significant, and can in principle be revealed experimentally, the two superposed possibilities must both be present in nature, together, for they somehow ‘communicate’ with one another through that relation. The eigenvalue +1 can be assigned to the presence of the photon on the right, −1 to its absence, to construct a measurable physical quantity, ‘photon‐right.’ Its expectation vanishes for the aforementioned superposition. If we look for the photon on the left and do not find it, it must be on the right. The superposition accordingly collapses to the term ‘nothing left, photon right,’ whose expectation for photon‐right jumps from zero to one right away. Only with a mixture could one ascribe the initial (vanishing) expectation to an ignorance which is then overcome once the photon is not found on the left. The issue is: what exactly happens on the left to cause the ontic (and not merely epistemic) jump on the right? Is it some mental event? Or is it nothing at all?
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